The Supreme Court Saturday stayed an unusual order of the Allahabad high court asking the head of the department of astrology of Lucknow University to decide whether a woman, an alleged rape victim, is manglik or not.
The apex court, which held a special sitting on Saturday, took suo motu cognisance of the matter and observed it doesn't understand why the "astrology report is called for" while hearing a bail application.
The high court had passed the order on May 23 while hearing the bail plea of the man accused of raping the woman on the false promise of marriage.
The counsel for the man had argued before the high court that since the woman was a 'manglik', marriage between the two could not be solemnised and has been refused.
However, the counsel appearing for the woman had insisted before the high court she was not a manglik.
According to Hindu astrology, a person born under the influence of the planet Mars (mangal) is believed to have mangal dosha (affliction) and is called manglik.
Many superstitious Hindus believe marriage between a manglik and a non-manglik is inauspicious and can be disastrous.
"Mr Mehta, you have seen this?" a bench of Justices Sudhanshu Dhulia and Pankaj Mithal asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared in the matter.
"I have seen this. It is disturbing. I would request your lordships to kindly stay this order," Mehta said.
An advocate, appearing for the complainant, told the bench the high court passed the order with the consent of the parties.
"But this was totally out of context. What's this got to do with the subject matter," the bench observed, adding, "apart from it, it involves so many other features... right to privacy has been disturbed, and we don't want to spell out, there are so many other aspects."
Arguing that astrology is a science, Mehta said, "The question is, while entertaining an application by a judicial forum can this be a consideration."
The bench said there is no doubt that astrology is a science but there are various aspects to it.
"We are not getting into the merits of the case," it said.
"This court takes a suo motu cognisance of this case which has been placed before us," the bench said, while staying the operation and effect of the high court order.
It directed the registry to issue notices to all parties concerned, including the state.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing in the week commencing July 10.
"We have stayed the order and have permitted the court to decide the bail application on its own merits," the bench observed, adding, "we don't understand why this astrology report is called for".
Mehta told the bench he was immensely grateful as a law officer that the apex court took cognisance of the matter.
In its May 23 order, the high court had said, "Let Head of Department (Astrology Department), Lucknow University may decide the matter whether the girl is mangali or not and the parties will produce the kundali (horoscope) before the Head of Department (Astrology Department), Lucknow University within ten days from today.
The Head of Department (Astrology Department), Lucknow University is directed to submit report in a sealed cover within three weeks to this Court."
The high court has listed the case for resumed hearing on June 26.